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Future of RideLondon sportive in doubt

Joseph Delves
23 Oct 2020

Surrey County Council recommends area no longer hosts RideLondon 100 sportive from 2022

Following a public consultation earlier this year, Surrey County Council is set to recommend the area no longer hosts the famous RideLondon 100 sportive. This is despite a majority of 58% of respondents to the survey indicating they support the event continuing.

If the council chooses to ratify the decision during its meeting on 27th October, it could spell the end for the well-established RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive.

Conceived of as an Olympic legacy project, a professional race and associated sportive have been held annually since August 2013.

Starting from London’s Olympic Park, the route then heads into Surrey to cover much of the course tackled by the pros during the 2012 Olympics road race.

Since its inception, around 25,000 amateur cyclists have followed in their pedal strokes each year. Now run by the same company that organises the London Marathon, it is estimated that participants in the 2019 edition raised £11.5 million for charity, bringing the total raised for good causes to more than £77 million in the first seven years of the event.

However, both events have suffered due to the current Covid-19 crisis. In 2017 the elite event joined the top-tier of international racing when the UCI promoted it to the WorldTour. However, a clash with the now-postponed Olympics saw it lose this status in 2020.

With the race unable to go ahead this year, the organiser had decided to concentrate on a scaled-back version in 2021 that would see the pro event ditched.

However, if the council ratifies its current recommendations, the sportive could also be under threat. Surrey Council has suggested it be cut down from 100 miles to become a 30-mile 'inspiration ride' with just four miles of the route crossing into Surrey.

'Surrey County Council conducted a public consultation earlier this year to inform its decision on the future of the RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive from 2022,' explained Hugh Brasher, Event Director of RideLondon.

'Despite a majority of respondents and a majority of Surrey residents supporting the continuation of the event in Surrey, the recommendation to Surrey County Council Cabinet is that Surrey should no longer host the RideLondon-Surrey 100 mile sportive from 2022.

'This is both surprising and disappointing as the public consultation process earlier this year resulted in a small but significant majority in favour of RideLondon taking place in the county.'

While most of the static elements of the event take place in London, Brasher highlighted the extensive funding provided to services in Surrey via the London Marathon Charitable Trust.

'At a time when charities and community organisations are facing huge financial difficulties, it is also very unfortunate that if the Cabinet ratifies this recommendation, Surrey sports clubs and community organisations will no longer be eligible to apply for grants from The London Marathon Charitable Trust.

'More than £4.8 million has now been awarded to 93 projects in Surrey since 2013 as a direct benefit of RideLondon taking place in the county – that’s an average of £685,000 per year in funding to Surrey projects for the past seven years.

'Furthermore, millions of pounds have been spent with Surrey businesses and millions of pounds raised for Surrey charities as a direct result of RideLondon.'

Objections to the event, which takes place on a Sunday and sees roads closed throughout the day, included disruption of travel, increased litter and grumbles that it encouraged riders to use the route year-round for training.

With the future of what was the UK’s most prestigious pro race looking doubtful, the council's decision might now also see the end of what has been the country’s most successful and widely attended sportive.

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